By Nate Thompson
FRUITPORT – Levi Six remembers idolizing his older brother, Logan, because he always seemed larger than life on the football field, playing for the Fruitport Trojans.
“I loved watching my brother play, because he was just this big, strong beastly guy running around taking guys’ heads off,” Levi said of his brother, a 2012 Fruitport graduate. “He always told me ‘Don’t be like me, be better.”
Levi Six has done his part to try to fulfill his older brother’s wishes and carry on his family’s football tradition at Fruitport.
The Trojans’ three-year starter has followed in the footsteps of Logan, who was a standout fullback and linebacker, as well as their father, Dean Six, and their uncle, Scott Six, who each played for the Trojans.
Dean Six is now Fruitport’s special teams coordinator who passed his passion for the sport on to his sons.
“It seems he knows everything about the game,” Levi said of his father. “He’s been around football for so long.”
Levi has earned a reputation as a no-nonsense, intense player who gets a lot of mileage out of his 5-9, 165-pound frame. The three-year varsity starter at running back and linebacker brings the boom on both sides of the ball, just like Logan Six did four years ago.
And like his brother, Levi wears No. 6, for obvious reasons.
“It’s been a joy coaching him,” said Fruitport head coach Greg Vargas. “He shows up to work his tail off every day and he leads by example.
“I’d label Levi as more of a brutish runner,” Vargas added. “He’s got the speed, but he’s not afraid to stick his nose in there. We beg him all the time to try to break it outside, but he seems to prefer to lower his head and run over people. He’s a very physical football player.”
At running back, Six has totaled 603 yards on 99 carries with eight touchdowns. He had a huge game last week, rushing for 203 yards on 12 carries with four touchdowns in the Trojans’ wild 63-46 victory over Grand Rapids Union.
Defensively, he’s Fruitport’s leading tackler with 49.
But one key leap in the second game of the season, on special teams, has been Levi’s most memorable play of the season. Six, along with a pair of teammates, got their hands on a Spring Lake extra point attempt with seven seconds remaining in the game, preserving the Trojans’ thrilling 14-13 victory over their bitter rival.
“Before, on their first field goal attempt, I hit one gap, and then on the next kick I hit the other, so I kind of figured out where their weaker blocking was,” Six said. “So on that last attempt, I just crashed down as hard as I could.
“It was a great feeling, because it’s always a huge win when you can beat Spring Lake. It’s always a good game, no matter what the teams’ records are.”
The Trojans are competing for the first time this season in the O-K Black Conference. Fruitport – with an enrollment of 855 students – is battling in an underdog role against other league schools with student bodies ranging from just over 1,000 to 1,700 students.
Despite their 2-3 record, the Trojans have proven they can compete with the big boys.
“It’s been a challenge, but the kids have realized it’s not a far leap from the competition we have been playing (in non-conference) the last few years, like DeWitt and St. John’s,” Vargas said. “We’ve also played Grand Haven the last couple years and have faced off with Muskegon Catholic and their talented squads. We’ve made a concerted effort to beef up our schedule so we’d one day be prepared for a situation like this.
“We saw before the season started that we’d have the smallest (enrollment). I’d say we like being the underdogs because we want to prove to people that we belong.”
Six hopes his senior season ends with a Fruitport playoff berth, which means the Trojans would have to win their last four games, starting Friday against Zeeland East. He said his team must eliminate silly turnovers and keep drives going – problems that have plagued them in tough losses to Coopersville and Kenowa Hills.
Even if the playoffs aren’t in the cards, Six is looking forward to playing longtime local rivals Reeths-Puffer and Mona Shores in the last two weeks of the season.
This winter Six will compete in his final season for the Trojans’ wrestling squad. He missed nearly all of his junior campaign after he broke his arm and tore a tendon on his elbow during his first tournament. As a sophomore, he placed sixth in the state in the 145-pound weight class, finishing with a 36-16 record.
“I want to go to college and play football or wrestle,” he said. “I love, love sports. It’s such a big part of my life.”
Of course it is. It’s a family tradition.